When Your Fave Is Problematic

When Your Fave Is Problematic

Tina Fey, I love you, but I think you can do better.

I love Tina Fey. I’ve loved her since I was about 10 years old and started watching "30 Rock" with my parents.

Even as a kid, I saw myself in her portrayal of the nerdy, awkward, intelligent comedy writer Liz Lemon. Fey was a self-proclaimed feminist, and a great example of a powerful, funny, unapologetic woman with a strong network of funny female friends whom I also adored, including Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch.

She has always been my favorite celebrity.

I’ve read her book "Bossypants" no less than five times, I’ve seen every project she’s written for, and I even dressed up as her for Halloween one year in middle school (specifically, my costume was Tina Fey’s SNL portrayal of Sarah Palin, though the teachers and students at my school just assumed I was dressed up as Sarah Palin; those heathens).

Recently, I’ve started seeing tons of articles popping up on social media detailing the insensitive or troublesome behavior of generally well-respected celebrities.

Through my reading, I’ve been exposed to the term “white feminism,” a sector of feminism that focuses primarily on the struggles of the “average” cis, able, moderately wealthy, white woman while ignoring the ways in which different factors like race, sexual orientation, and class can impact a woman’s experience.

I read about different influential people who were praised for being feminists, when in fact their behavior has proven that they hold no regard for intersectionality. I’ve also been reading about the ways in which many have used derogatory terms, mocked large groups of people, and appropriated other cultures without it having a detrimental effect on their public persona.

It was in this research that I started to hear my idol’s name thrown around in conjunction with the word “problematic.”

I read countless articles about Fey’s unsavory racial humor on her shows "30 Rock" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," ableism in 30 Rock, and her selective feminism which includes repeatedly making sex workers the punchlines of her jokes.

I was horrified.

For one, my idol, who I had always held to a such high standard, has a history of taking cheap shots for humor, mocking members of marginalized groups. Also, I was disappointed in myself for having such a blind spot when it came to Tina Fey’s humor.

How could I claim to be someone who wants to stamp out injustice in the world when one of my favorite TV shows had relied upon stereotypes and degradation for laughs?

From scouring the internet and seeing blog posts upon blog posts of “problematic faves,” I think it’s safe to say that nearly everyone’s favorite celebrity or public figure has said or done something that can be deemed offensive. Some of these actions are obviously reprehensible and are immediately condemned by society, and some are more subtle and often considered excusable by the general public.

This is not only limited to famous people though, nearly every person has said or done something insensitive or offensive.

Making the occasional offensive joke or ignorant comment doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is bad. Oftentimes it’s just a stage people go through before embarking on the journey to become a better, smarter person.

Like how everyone in middle school had super gelled hair or super dark eyeliner below their eyes. People make mistakes, and they grow to look back at their school pictures with horror. It’s a natural part of growing into a better human.

On Twitter, I recently saw another very funny writer and comedian I admire acknowledging her past problematic behavior. Gaby Dunn made a list of things she has done in her career as well as her personal life, that she considers to be problematic in some way.

In putting this on the internet for her fans and critics alike to see, Dunn is holding herself accountable, something that I think is important for people to do. Apologizing and acknowledging one’s mistakes won’t erase damage that has been done, but it often indicates that the person who did the hurting sees the error in his/her ways and is ready for growth.

When someone does or says something that is hurtful to others in some way, I think the brave and respectable thing to do is to stop and examine your behavior instead of shutting down others' feelings and refusing to take any blame for your actions.

What disappoints me most about Tina Fey is her refusal to acknowledge or learn from her critics who have pointed out the ways in which some of her writing has made them feel uncomfortable or isolated.

I wish she had listened to the feedback she received about problematic jokes on "30 Rock" to improve her writing and make it more inclusive.

Instead, her newest show "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" seems to have many of the same problems. Fey has dodged the criticism she received by refusing to comment, saying that her goal “is not to explain jokes.”

Her refusal to apologize or acknowledge her mistakes slightly reminds me of a certain large orange bully who is running for president, and if there's any incentive for someone to apologize, it should be to avoid having anything in common with Donald Trump.

Tina Fey is still my fave, albeit a somewhat problematic one. She was the first person I saw on TV that showed me that a woman can be the head writer of a comedy show, she was the first person I saw on TV who made me feel cool for being awkward and having bad eyesight, and she was the first woman I saw on TV speak vocally against sexism.

While I look up to her in so many ways, that doesn’t mean that I think she’s infallible.

I hope that she begins to listen to her critics and see their concerns as a way to improve her work instead of seeing them as attacking her.

Though I think she has made several mistakes, I truly don’t think Tina Fey has bad intentions, and she has even written multiple times about her quest to erase toxic biases she learned at a young age. But I am confident that she can do better as a brilliant comedian, and I think that everyone can strive to be better.

Cover Image Credit: brokeassstuart.com

Popular Right Now

My Winter Break Awarded Me The Opportunity Of A Lifetime

How one video led me to creating content for two great organizations.

Sometimes things work out for you even when you didn’t plan for them to happen. Over the Christmas break, I got a chance to do some amazing things and promote my work in a big way, all out of coincidence.

Christmas was fast approaching and my mom and I were getting ready to head to the airport to pick up my sister who was coming home from Washington D.C. I was trying to decide if I should bring my camera or not; usually I wouldn’t but my sister always begs me to make videos of her and take her picture so I thought this time I guess I’ll indulge. I figured a nice arriving home clip would be nice to have and something cool to capture on my camera.

Her plane had been delayed and sort of shuffled everywhere because of the bad storm all over the country, so we weren’t really sure when or where she was coming from. As we waited patiently for her to arrive, my mom and I noticed more and more people gathering into the airport and setting up camp on the other side of the terminal.

The El Paso Sun Court arrived, then Mariachis, even the El Paso mascot. Finally, our questions were answered when someone my mom knew from the group came up to say hi to her. He said that this was part of a basketball tournament happening as part of the Sun Bowl. The Sun Bowl is the bowl game we have in El Paso at the football stadium where the UTEP Miners play, and they have many other events that lead up to it, including a basketball tournament.

We learned that one of the teams was coming into town that day and all the theatrics was a part of their arrival. Luckily I had had my camera and a very versatile 50mm lens.

So, I decided to stay a little while after my sister finally arrived to film the event. (I had learned last summer that you can pretty much get anywhere in El Paso with a camera and if you look like you know what you’re doing).

The team arrived and danced to music and had a great time. I later took that footage and made a short little video, which is what I usually do when I film something random that I see, and I posted it on my social media. The post got a good audience and eventually attracted the attention of the head media representative from the Sun Bowl Association. He contacted me and said he loved the video and wanted to know if I wanted to do any more videos for him, gratis of course. It didn’t take me too long to think about it and told him, of course, I would.

I became the sole provider of video content for the Sun Bowl Association. This small airport video led me to create eight videos for the Sun Bowl Association, including hanging out with the NC State and ASU football players at Fort Bliss Military Base.

I also got to create videos for all of their events leading up to the Sun Bowl:

Finally, I had the amazing opportunity to create two sports recap videos for both the basketball tournament and Hyundai Sun Bowl:

It was an amazing experience to represent a company visually and have my content spread across not only El Paso, but also Arizona and North Carolina. It was also incredibly gratifying to be a very young 21-year-old content creator among so many older and recognized photographers from the El Paso Times, Herald Post, etc.

This opportunity eventually led to another freelance video project with the UTEP Tennis team. To get not only one but two organizations wanting me to create content for them was such a great honor.

And to think all of this came from one decision to bring my camera to the airport to pick up my sister. I could not have brought my camera that day or had the wrong lens. My sister’s flight could have arrived on time and we would’ve missed the arrival. I could not have had the confidence to step into the crowd and press the record button. But luckily life had its way of putting me in the right place at the right time.

I had the confidence to step in the crown and press the record button. But luckily life had its way of putting me in the right place at the right time.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Ortegon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Jumped Into My First Mosh Pit

So, I moshed for the first time. I got hit in the face. And I loved every single bit of it.

It's storytime.

Last week I went to my first punk rock concert with a new friend of mine. It was a last minute decision and I bought myself a ticket the night before. I was so excited because punk music had become a defining aspect of not only my music taste but also my day-to-day life. That music has been there for me on all of my ups and down lately. Now, I was finally going to be able to experience that music in real life, to finally experience punk in person.

The show was a pretty long line up of a bunch of different punk bands (some more familiar than others) and was meant to be a sort of 10th-year-anniversary concert for a music production company. The venue was this sort of small bar/club in downtown Pontiac with three different "rooms" where bands were playing. My friend and I stayed in the main ballroom almost the whole time up on a balcony so we could see the large crowd below us and the stage perfectly fine (and with me being 5'2", this was essential).

As we swayed and danced to the Flatliners playing down below, a small mosh pit started to form and I stared in complete awe. My friend laughed at my amusement and then had me promise that we would go down there and join at some point. Of course, I said yes and actually couldn't wait. For those of you that don't know, moshing is essentially how one dances to punk or heavy metal. It involves a lot of pushing, head banging, arm-swinging, crowd suffering, kicking, jumping, and yelling along to the music. To someone not used to that or that type of music, it must seem maniacal and psychotic at first glance. But it is almost like a rollercoaster: Why do we get into a ride only to be scared and experience dangerously high speeds? The adrenaline rush obviously.

The Flatliners are now finished with their set, so my friend and I headed down to the main floor to get ready for my one of my all-time favorite bands: Pup. If you aren't familiar with Pup, they are a Canadian hardcore punk band who are known for their super intense mosh pits in the indie music community. My friend and I met some other people down in the pit and we were all talking before the music started, mainly about how nervous I was. I just stood there, shaking a little, bracing myself for whatever I was about to experience.

I started to second guess my choice to get into a Pup mosh pit, but then the music started. My friend looks at me and I have an urge to say goodbye when immediately bodies start hitting each other from every direction. I lose my friend in the crowd right off the bat and I already feel suffocated by the weight of everyone around me. Not being a huge Black Friday person, I wondered if this is how it felt to be in those huge crowds bombarding a Walmart the second it opens (just add in a lot of drunk people and deafening music). I am being pushed from every direction, and already I am sweating through my shirt.

Then it happens. I am punched on the side of the head. A hand comes swinging out from next to me so quickly I could not even see it coming. Luckily, my friend and I took our glasses off beforehand just in case something like this happened. That disoriented me for a few moments (and gives me a killer headache), but I just try to focus on my breathing and not falling over. I pull myself together just to have someone grab a fistful of my hair a few minutes later into the second song. I was pulled backward, my neck twisted at a weird angle. I turn around, but can't see who did it. This has me freaked out, and I remember my friend telling me that if I need to get out to just crowd surf to the front (which is equally as scary at this point). So, I get the attention of a dude next to me and yell over the music, asking him if he could give me a lift. When he knelt down to grab my foot someone accidentally knees him in the face and we are split apart by a crowd of people. At this point, I see no point of escape and I get legitimately worried. Then, I lose my footing and fall down when someone reaches down and pulls me up before I can get seriously hurt.

My friend sees me not doing too well, so he pulls me over to him and pushes us out of the pit and the ballroom and into the front entrance. I'm bent over and struggling to breathe when I turn around to him and laugh. I had just experienced one of the most thrilling things thus far in my life. We were dripping with sweat and out of breath, but I was on cloud 9. Before you call me insane, let me explain why.

On one hand, the adrenaline is ridiculously amazing. It is like a rollercoaster, just a little more violent at that. I felt like I was in my own world, experiencing so many firsts. My first punk concert, my first time seeing Pup, my first concert with my friend, and my first time moshing. And for the first time in months, I felt genuinely happy. I was doing something for myself and decided to dance like a crazy person like no one was watching. I was completely sober but felt a high that lasted me through the night

On the other hand, I felt like I belonged. I had found my community. Amongst the other pierced and tatted angsty people, I finally knew where I could exist solely as myself. From the people we randomly met and bonded with before the set started to the person who tried to lift me up to crowd surf to the person who picked me up as soon as I fell, I felt an attachment to all of them like we were in this sort of mismatched, chaotic punk family together. I have always had a problem with fitting in and finding my group. Even when I had friends, they would normally be on a one-on-one basis. I have pretty bad social anxiety that makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable with people and new friends. So the fact I could find my place, my home with my friend at my side... There is something powerful in that

So, I moshed for the first time. I got hit in the face. And I loved every single bit of it.

Cover Image Credit: Ashleigh Dubie

Related Content

Facebook Comments